Sunday, August 24, 2008

Work Doodles

This is how i doodle/sketch; these are usually done at work whenever there is some major down time. The recent contract I got wasn't every involved on my end so i pretty much tore through a few scrap sheets and half the ink in a new ballpoint pen. This particular one was done on the back of a rejected table top sign. As you can see, my natural drawing style is a bit different from what the photo-referenced stuff. I've been looking a lot at Trent Kaniuga's environmental designs thanks to his blog and his books i got. I've always done a lot of hatching and such in my traditional pen drawings. I didn't do a lot of coloring back in the day so everything was in black and white. Hatching was the only way i was able to add any sort of gray shading to a piece. I'm thinking about getting a nice moleskin sketchbook and filling the whole thing with nature studies (trees, ferns, forests, water, etc). It would help me get back into actual drawing again at least. With the amount of traveling that could be involved in my foreseeable future, it would at least help me kill some time. Well, moving forward.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Synesthetic Part 5: Baltimore and Fin

[image: the cover to our mock-up copy of the book]

Between Chicago and Baltimore was corporate work for me. I had taken myself off the "On" list at the agency for about six months to work on Synesthetic. I had even turned down a full time job to do be able to what I'm doing. At this point I had torn through all my savings, accumulated some more debt, and thus needed to get back into paying work. I honestly still haven't fully recovered financially from that period of time. As I have said before, we did some real stupid things. But we're young, we're allowed.

Jake and I promised ourselves that for Baltimore we would sleep the night before the flight. That was a total lie. So we arrived at Baltimore sleepy and bleary-eyed but were in much better spirits than our arrival at Chicago. For one we were staying with Jake's sister Eva (no actual blood relations, only spiritual) and her boyfriend Steve. Having a nice place to stay with wonderful people is always a good idea if you can swing it. It makes the grueling hours of the convention much more tolerable. Hotels lack that comfortable homey feeling that can really relax you from being behind a table all day. This is especially true for these first few conventions as we were trying to feel out conventions' natural ebbs and flows.

Baltimore was much more artist/publisher orientated convention. I would guess maybe a third of the floorspace was dedicated to dealers; the rest was setup for independent artists and artists with their publishers. There were no real dead spots with the artist alley as it ran the perimeter of the convention hall, which also helped with the traffic flow and visibility. The atmosphere was much more relaxed than the frantic pitch that permeated the air in Chicago. Which is surprising with the sheer number of big names on the guest list. I was much more exited about the guests here than Chicago and the audience seemed much smaller. Though this could also be due to the convention's usage of space. The walkways were much wider here; and they didn't try to cram as much as they could without breaking fire code as Chicago seemed to have done. Chicago was more of a fanboy's show, Baltimore was more of a fan's show. Everyone was way more laid back and casual. I remember talking to the guys at Gaijin Studios at one point when Jimmy Palmiotti just strolled on behind the table, sat on the floor, and started chatting with the guys. It was a surreal moment and an indication on how the pros approached the convention as well.

We met up with Evan at the show and found a slow period to approach the Gaijin Studios table with our demo copy. Brian Stelfreeze is a sort of idol/mentor to Jake and Evan; especially to Jake. He has been a real long time fan, going to Aggie-con for years and years just to get critiques from Brian. So you can understand what it meant to him to show Brian a product he could really stand behind. I remember Jake handing Brian the book for a critique and the first words out of Brian's mouth was an impressed "Damn!". He flipped through the book with a look that only Brian could pull off that said "wow, you serious? this is way too cool". It's hard to describe unless you know him to a certain degree; but it spoke volumes to us. He had very little critique to give us, just a few choice words on color and design/layout. He then mentioned there was a group in Atlanta he was kind of guiding that was trying to do what we just did on our own. Then it all came to the definitive statement: "Is this your only copy? Well, when you get this printed, send me a copy. I want to read this." That was it, everything melted away and made everything all worth it. All of it, the turmoil, the grind, the crushed morale; it was all worth it now. Within a few minutes, someone we looked up to saw our efforts, understood the work that was involved, and was not only impressed but respected us for it. That was all we needed; for me, the convention was done. The yummy seafood in Little Italy was just a bonus.

[image: the final cover of the book by local artist Kathryn Petroff]

It would take a full year before we could take the demo copy to self-publication. Finding another set of eyes to go over the text was problematic. I just ended up rereading the entire book a few times by the end of it. We had to tell some people we were going to do some major rehauls on their story because things were not working out properly. Filling in some gaps was a real obstacle. Then finding a place to print it on demand was a debate. On top of that was the real world. I had to find paying work as a freelancer. Jake had to not only graduate but find a job because he couldn't keep his university job being that he was no longer a student. We had to decide if we still wanted to be roommates; and then find a place to live in Dallas that was in our budget. Then move out of Denton and into Dallas. Through that was also the ending of Space-Gun the webcomic and the start of Space-Gun Studios. It's been some real busy times, but all worth it.

So after three days of re-prepping files for the newly chosen printer, and a few weeks of emailing, we now have a small stack of Synestetics in our living room. We couldn't get a lot of copies in our first batch because the page count (140) makes the printing costs a lot higher than a standard book. ArtLoveMagic and Titan comics are generous enough to organize an in-store signing for us and another local book "Eye Witness" this Saturday, August 16, 2008 at the Titan location here in Dallas. Our first in-store signing, how cool is that?

Well, that's it. Two years of sleepless nights and hard work. Was it worth it? Hell yeah. I have a final product that I'm proud of; and I've learned a myriad of lessons that I could not have learned otherwise. After coordinating 20 creators and grinding on no sleep for wo weeks to produce a 140 page book, everything else seems much easier now.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Synesthetic Part 4: A Lesson in Cons

Wizard World Chicago 2007 was a harsh lesson to learn coming out of the gate. This is especially true on two weeks of no sleep. Looking back at Chicago, I count it as one of the dumbest thing I've ever done. Sadly it also counts as one of the most expensive things I've done as well. I've never worked an out-of-state convention, so there were little things that I did not anticipate. One such thing would be the car rental. I had forgotten that you have to pay an extra fee if you're under 25 years of age as a renter. And this extra fee cost me MORE than the rental itself. After telling me the fee would be about $250 on top of the rental cost (~$200), the clerk asked me if I still wanted the car. I just stared at him for a second. How else was I going to get around? I'm from Texas, I barely have a concept of how public transportation works let alone the public transportation of this area. Wizard World Chicago isn't held in Chicago proper but one of its suburbs. So it looks a lot like the urban sprawl of Dallas, which means you need a car to get around. The only concession was we got upgraded to a phat full size car when a mother and daughter asked for the last compact. It put us in better spirits at least. Then we got slammed with the daily parking fee at the hotel. These little things were really starting to add up and wreck our moral. And this was only an hour after landing. We still had five days to go.

We visited my friend Anthony as he is a Chicagoan now, living pretty central downtown. He's the author of the short story that "Down Time" is based on. And of course with it being Anthony, he and I end up at a Kinko's at an ungodly hour to print out stuff for the DC Talent Search. And by "ungodly hour" I mean 11PM, which to Jake and me felt like 5AM. And no,there is no time change between Dallas and Chicago. Remember, at this point we were running on maybe five nonconsecutive hours of sleep. And of course with it being with Anthony, something goes terribly wrong at Kinko's. This time it was a broken color printer. Which meant we had to walk not to the closest Kinko's ("It's dark, we're not walking that way") but to the next closest. Did I mention that Anthony only enters a Kinko's with me on these stupid last minute print runs and something always go wrong? I'm still surprised he agrees to go.

As for the convention itself, Chicago was massive. I was not prepared for the capacity of this convention. The space is immense, the people are numerous, and the noise is a constant rumble. This was also the first comic book convention that Jake and I attended as artist alley participants. The previous cons we went to were all anime conventions, and the difference is immediately noticeable. Anime conventions, people are looking for commissions and art prints; at comic book conventions, people are mostly looking for books and autographs. And as we only had one book which was not for sale, we were ill prepared for this show. Also with Chicago being the size that it is, people there were looking for the big names. First time out-of-towners like us hold little to no draw with the fans. We had no local support, no products besides our prints, and no reputation to bank on. I think the only reason we got any attention was due to us painting at the table. Thankfully that drew in considerable amount of attention; otherwise it was have been a much longer weekend.

I spent most of my weekend talking to editors and creators showing them the book. Jake is a way better on the spot artist so I felt more comfortable with just him at the table than if it was just me. Plus there's a certain level of wanderlust that overtakes me; I'm getting better restraining myself these days. Anyways, as this was our first time at a comic convention, it took me a day or two to get the approach down properly. There's a craft to it that is difficult for an introvert like myself. First off is the intimidation factor. You got to be fearless and confident yet humble enough to not come across like as arrogant prick. Conventions have this organic ebb and flow, it can sense fear and pride with pinpoint accuracy. And with a convention this size, getting the attention of any one person is difficult. Trying to force yourself into their attention/conversation will turn people off. I've discovered over time that being known as "a nice dude" can go a long way. So figuring out how the convention floor operates was a trying process: frustrating at times, infuriating at others.

I got some real positive responses from some of the people though. The editors of APE and TopShelf were fairly receptive and positive. However TopShelf was not looking for an anthology and the editor I talked to at APE was much more responsive to a particular style than anything. Though the coolest response I got was from Ivan Brandon. He is the editor of 24Seven, the book that inspired the entire project to begin with. He was fairly impressed with the book and had some good comments to make as well as some helpful critiques. He gave me the best compliment I got all weekend when he said he really liked how the cover was designed. I really like how 24Seven was laid out, the design work on it is really good so that meant a lot to me. He wished me luck with the book and sent me on my way. This was the theme for the weekend: Good luck with the book; laters. It was another lesson we had to learn the hard way: getting picked up at a con via a submission sample is really rare. Publishers aren't really looking for talent at shows. They have people looking through the indy scene to find talent and books to sign to their company. The independent market allows for a publisher to talk to your editor about your work ethic, your speed and skill, and how well you work with others. They can look at your release schedule to see your productivity and longevity so they can pick up a stable worker and not someone who will burn out in two months. A major publisher picks up maybe, MAYBE one or two talents per year on the convention circuit. I got all of this directly from the editor of DC comics at their talent search orientation.

Jake and I refer to Chicago 2007 as "A Con". We sold a shirt, a print each, Jake did a sketch and got a commission (which was done/paid out later, after the con), and I sold a painting. Compare that intake to the output of airfare, car rental, parking, table cost, food, cost of the demo copy (a buck a page in a then 130 page book), and for me six months of wages so I could work on this project. We couldn't even hang out in the lobby with people because we were still so tired. After dinner we would just crash in the hotel room. So you can understand the level of dejection that loomed over us as we sat at the bar Sunday night doing our traditional post-con review. Though we couldn't even talk about the con. We couldn't tell you why at the time, but looking back now it's pretty obvious. It was a terrible con for us; we barely talk about it now even. Though we did take away from it some very valuable lessons and experiences. I liken it to being tossed in the very deep end of the ocean with our arms tied together. We didn't sink, we didn't swim, but we somehow paddled our way to shore eventually. I think we got saved due to the fact that the con had to end at some point.

What we did talk about at the bar was Baltimore, the next show we would be attending. It would be great; we would get a chance to hang out with Jake's sister, meet the guys of Gaijin Studios, and finally be able to meet Mike Wieringo. Jake has been a long time fan and I had recently discovered his online presence and have been following his art religiously. Everything we've heard about 'Ringo had been very positive and upbeat. Not one person ever had anything negative to say about him as a person and about his art. We concluded if there could only be one person to draw Spider-Man from now until the end of time, we'd choose Mike. We were excited.

Then on Monday, not long after we got home, I read the news that brought the comic world to a standstill. Mike Wieringo had died that previous night, probably around the time we were at the bar talking about how great he was. You could tell how the news shook the everything. There was an outpouring of love and admiration from every corner of the field. It felt like the entire industry, pros and fans, closed its doors to mourn a great loss of their own. I honestly felt a bit cheated by the universe. I just wanted to meet him in person to say "Hi", shake his hand, and tell him how much he rocked. Now I'll never get that chance.

To Mike Wieringo, a great artist and a great person. You rock, man. Then, now, and forever.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Synesthetic Part 3: The Grind

[Image: My inks on Paul Milligan's pencils. This is why Paul can be a badass and a bastard in the same breath.]

For two weeks, Jake and I locked ourselves in front of our computers every waking hour that we could. I fortunately had saved up a few months of bills to I could stay home and work on this project full time. Jake on the other hand still had work at the university; though it this was during the summer so he really didn't have anything to do at the office. Which honestly is pretty horrible because the office life can really kill your grind. Sitting at a desk doing nothing is really life draining, especially when you know you could be using your time to do other things that needs to be done and done very soon.

We had turned our dry-erase board into our happy home. On it was the list of pages that needed to be done. Each of the stories had a row of open circles; each circle represented a page. It would get half filled when the inking was done, completely filled when the coloring was done. This was more of psychological than anything else. Being able to visualize the progress and see the goal get met kept us from getting mentally overwhelmed. We could see the big picture when we needed to but could also focus on each step one at a time. With the daunting tasks that were ahead of us, keeping mentally sane was pivotal to our health. Because honestly our physical healths were getting destroyed.

At this point, sleep was the enemy. We did not have a lot time to do what needed to be done. Back in my design college days, I had developed a few tricks to keep the oil burning way past midnight and into the next afternoon. When I needed to sleep, it could only be for a few hours at a time (about three to four). One technique is to leave the lights on. You body rests a little differently when you're under lights compared to darkness. I would sleep on the covers to keep myself from getting really comfortable and had my feel slightly elevated to help with circulation. I also set two alarms (clock and cellphone) as per usual habit. Again, some of this could be more psychological than physical but honestly, it worked. I could sleep for four hours then abracadabra get up like Viagra to start on work right away.

We were getting the work done at a decent pace, but it was really wearing us down. We made sure to tell everyone to not contact us during those weeks. We essentially only saw each other, though briefly at some points because we had different sleep cycles. Jake would be awake for most of the day due to work; I would be up most of the night. Still, the stress was getting to us. There were several occasions where we would just snap at each other; nothing really mean or vindictive, just short and slightly hostile. Luckily we understood what was going on and saw these signs for what they were. "It's not him, it's an honest question/concern, no reason to be mad, I'm just stressed out, calm, keep working, breathe". The fact that no one came out with knife wounds is a freaking miracle. Seriously, our apartment has various sharp and blunt metal objects everywhere. When you live right next to a graveyard, you have to be prepared for the zombie apocalypse. But that's a different blog entry.

We did take a few breaks in that time frame though. Our friend Fran somehow convinced us to take a break one evening and cooked us dinner. Granted, it probably didn't take much convincing. Though it was only for a couple of hours, a home cooked meal and some breathing time felt like a day of rest. Our friend Alex also came by to visit very briefly. If I remember correctly she was on a weekend leave from her FEMA deployment during the floods in central Texas. It was nice of her to drop by because we didn't know when we would see her again. To give you an idea of what condition we were in at this point, when we opened the door for Alex, the first thing out of her mouth was "You guys look like hell". She had wanted us to come with her out on the town with some friends but we were right in the middle of the grind at this point. Though the hour or so of her visit was a good break for us. I don't think the girls fully understand how much that meant us and our psyche. It probably kept us from a complete meltdown and murder.

But there was a lot of work to be done and the deadline was coming up way faster than it should have. With me mostly caught up with the inking, I comped together a wraparound cover and title page. During the last few days, I was adapting the short story for "Down Time" to Grant's pages. When Jake finished coloring a page, I immediately opened it to letter it. At this point I was essentially writing each page as they came in. Luckily Jake's story has no text (it's set to music) so after I finished inking them all was left was the coloring. As he colored those final pages, I started to prep all the other pages to get ready to print. Which meant in the 24 hours before our flight to Chicago, I was resizing pages to fit the final margins correctly, tweaking some pages to ensure proper bleeds, rescaling files that had their dimensions corrupted, and dropping in page breaks as needed to make sure that each story started out on the correct side. Jake finished coloring the last page at noon thirty, seventeen and a half hours before we had to leave for the airport. I exported the layout to PDF, burned the CD, and it was off to Kinko's.

This was cutting it close. The time estimate I got from a store employee was at least 5 hours. This leave very little time to get to Lewisville where a former employer said I could perfect bind the book there for free. Sleep deprived and hungry, I panicked as I stepped through the doors at Kinko's. Behind the counter were stacks and stacks of orders. When I asked if they could print something for us on the Fiery, the girl frowned slightly. "We're kind of backed up, let me ask Patrick how long it would take". I am Luan's brain, and I'm about to have a stroke. Patrick hemmed and hawed for a bit and spouted out a miracle: two hours. Holy Jesus, it's going to work out. Leaving the disk in the hands of St. Patrick, we left for food. It had been about twelve hours since either us ate. We were hungry.

After our meal, we sat at Kinko's, waiting for our book to be printed. From where I sat, i could see the intense blue inside-front-cover come out of the printer. It was a good looking blue, the exact intense, electric blue I had wanted. As the other pages came out, Patrick looked impressed. "Is this your book?" he asked. "Well, kind of, it's us and like twenty other people," we chuckled. The pages kept printing, it was a huge stack. "It looks really, really good." Thank the gods. As I paid for the service, we flipped through the pages. It looked awesome; and it was our only set. Now to Lewisville. Jake was holding on to the pages with the protective nature of a grizzly bear. Mess with the cub and someone is going to get owned.

The binding was a nerve wrecking process. The guy in charge of the print room ran a few tests on the binder. The book was an nonstandard size so the machine had to be calibrated just right. We had one shot at this. We only had the one printout. I had no idea how deep the book would end up so i just guessed on the spine width. So when it came time to cut and glue the book to the cover, I was on edge. And like that, it was done. Perfect bound perfectly. We hugged everyone at the office and left with a skip in our step. We had to show SOMEONE. And who better than the person who started this project with us. We dropped by Evan's place to show him the book. Hearing him get excited about our prospects as a group was great. Jake and I have been locked away for two weeks; and for Evan to tell us "Dude, this is going to rock!" was what we needed to get geared for Chicago.

When we got home, I crashed out for a few hours as Jake did his laundry. Then he crashed out while I did my laundry. As we were zipping up our luggage and printing out the flight itineraries, a knock came to our door. It was our friend Kelly, outside in a world of morning blue, ready to take us to the airport. Bags packed and book safely at our side, I woke up at O'Hare airport about to embark on another four day grind: Wizard World Chicago.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Synesthetic Part 2: Turning Point

[image: page two of "Floater" by Evan Bryce]

I came back from my NYC with mixed feelings. On one hand, I loved the city that I had dreamed about since high school. On the other hand, I had a few ties left in the DFW that had to be settled one way or another. Space-Gun the webcomic was still ongoing, having just celebrated it's two year anniversary. Then there was Synesthetic. Some progress had been made by this point but not much. I had started my introduction pages to the book; references were shot, and the first three pages were completely finished. Evan had started and finished the story Jake had wrote for him. We had a handful of other pages from Nate, Matthew, and a few others at that point, but it was slow going. I honestly thought I would finish the prepress on the book in NYC that fall and be done with comics. I have a degree in design and that's what I would be doing as my career after that year. Then, we had The Meeting.

After a lot of "maybes" from the various creators, Jake organized a be-all meeting in Dallas. It was essentially an ultimatum: be at this meeting or you'll won't be in on the book. We were going to be moving forward no matter what. I honestly didn't expect a lot of people to show up. But I dressed in my business casuals (jeans, button-down, and a tie) and hoped for the best. And under the unforgiving Texas sun, we completely took over the patio at Cafe Brazil. With four tables strung together, we started in-depth discussions on everyone's story and ideas. Jake took one end of the tables and I went to the other. We made sure to talk with every single person there, refining ideas, making sure the stories fit our concept, establishing who needed what in terms of production, and gaining their confidence. I had printed out everything we had at that point, most importantly Evan's story. Evan's hard work had paid off in ways he would not have imagined. By passing around the finished story, you could see the slight panic in everyone's eyes. Not only was this project moving forward no matter what, the content looked amazing. You could tell that no one wanted to be the weak link in the anthology. With that meeting we essentially set the bar of standards for the project. It was the real catalyst that drove the project from its possible thirty pages to a solid 140 pages.

Unfortunately, this third boost didn't come until mid May. Everyone's due date was July 19th. Jake's and my real deadline was August 8th, the day we would fly to Chicago for Wizard World. This three week buffer was originally intended for wrapping up loose ends on stories and getting the pages ready for print. I've been through way too much hell in my design classes and found that leisurely wrap up from end production to print way better for the final product. I thought three weeks would be plenty of time to get that done. Sadly I had not anticipated the natural tendencies of comic book people to break deadlines. We did get a few finished stories before the due date, but nearly everything came right at the deadline or during the week afterward. The buffer was created to accommodate something like this but not to this degree. Jake and I had on our hardrives only a handful of finished pages, no cover (because only one person turned in spot illustrations for it), and under two weeks to color 41 pages, ink 18 pages, and letter 33 pages.

We put up a "NO VISITORS" sign on our door, got a bag full of Starbucks Double Shot Espressos, and implemented a handful of ancient sleeping techniques I picked up in design school. The next two weeks became the legendary "Synesthetic Grind".

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Synesthetic Part 1: The Beginning

[image: the initial Synethetic proposal to creators]

The Synesthetic Anthology is a 140 page, self-published creation that involved the organization of over 20 different creators. The project took about two years to put together from concept to finished product. Everything was done in-house. Synesthetic represents ten years of professional experience packed into a frantic two years span trapped in our tiny living room way out in Denton, TX. To give you an idea of where Denton is located: it's twenty minutes past Corinth, TX. And you never even HEARD of Corinth, don't try and pretend. Out in a small college town, locked away at Space-Gun Headquarters (ie. our tiny cave of an apartment), we did the impossible. And "impossible", I mean "craziest and stupidest thing we could do at that point". But we're young, we're allowed. And these are my experiences of how I drove my blood pressure to dangerous levels.

About two years ago, Jake Ekiss approached me about putting together an anthology with his friend Evan Bryce. They had recently bought the Image anthology 24Seven and thought how cool would it be to do a similar project with our friends. There was a sense of creative freedom on those pages; it seemed like a great deal of fun. Evan had been thinking about this project for a while when he approached Jake about it. In their various discussions and instant messaging, they brought me aboard to help out with the more technical stuff and to contribute a story. They also established that a overall concept was needed to tie the book together; something that brought the pages in as a whole and not a series of disjointed stories with various aims. They began debating between the abstract concepts of time and sound. I believe each had an idea for that concept and wanted to be able to do it. Somewhere in those discussions, they thought why not do both? By bringing in some concepts from McCloud's Understanding Comics, they added space as another theme. This was the birth of the hard to pronounce "Synesthetic". With the hardest part over, we began to look for other creators that would join us on this project. It was a fun idea, who wouldn't want to work with us? Oh, how little did we know.

Evan had gone to HeroesCon that year with the plan of sending out feelers to the comic book pros that he knows. That wasn't his only reason for going, but he thought "might as well ask while i'm here". We knew that if we could get one or two established names on the project, then we'd have an exponentially larger chance of getting published by an actual publisher. We also approached people at Wizard World Texas and CAPE! with our proposal. We quickly found out that everyone was hesitant to work with a rag tag band of unestablished names. Which is understandable; we had no publishing guarantee, no money, no history, no experience in this sort of thing. Evan had done just some things in the industry at that point (flatting and coloring); Jake and I did a webcomic that barely made a splash on the internet scene. We had nothing to really give them as an incentive. This was a major blow to the initial drive for the project. Support in the industry equates to respect, and we came to realize just being friends with them was not enough. We had to prove ourselves every bit of the way.

Right around this time Jake and I had started to meet more and more of the local comic book scene. We started to attend the monthly sketchgroup started by the folks at Stumblebum Studios. We found that the local scene was diverse and thriving; people seemed genuinely into comic books. This presented a great opportunity for us: these creators were local, much easier to communicate with, and we could sell them on the project in person (which turned out to be very important). This is when we spent a few days drafting up a proposal to bring to the sketchgroup. This was an agonizing process. Not only did we have to establish our goals, intentions, and means of doing it, we very little to no grounds to be even asking this of them. We had met these people once or twice before, with no real credentials other than our biweekly webcomic (which i doubt any of them even read or even looked at). They had every right to dismiss us, and we knew that. Which is why our proposal was so meticulously put together and worded.

This project had to be about a group effort. We could not come across as unfinanced entrepreneurs: lazy "idea guys" who would just sit back, make others do the work, and then reap the benefits without a sleepless night and stacks of energy drinks. People who come up with "cool ideas" are a dime a dozen; "cool ideas" are worthless without the hard work that will make those ideas a reality. So we made sure they understood that we would be in the trenches as well, side-by-side, working hard with them and working even harder FOR them to make this project a reality. We discovered that some people are hesitant to work on something because they feel that they are lacking in a certain area (drawing, inking, coloring, lettering, writing, etc). To alleviate that, we stated that we will either find that person for them or do it ourselves. We were there as a support for them on this project; and that is what really sold it for a lot of people. We also established that we would be taking on all the financial costs and risks involved in putting the book together, getting a copy printed, and traveling across the country to show various editors at Wizard World Chicago and Baltimore-Con in 2007 in the fall. This would give all the creators six months to put together 6-10 pages, which was a nice cushy deadline for everyone.

We approached the sketchgroup in at the end of 2006. We got a lot of positive response, people seemed really interested; which was much better than we had anticipated. The concept was open ended; it had a wide range of possibilities, and (hopefully, HOPEFULLY) we didn't come across as a bunch of newbs asking for a handout. Things were on the ball, ready to roll. Then the standstill. Nothing. No responses, no action, nothing. The project seemed dead in the waters again.

That spring I visited New York City with the full intent of moving there when my lease ran up in August. I met with the NYC office of my freelance agency to talk about job prospects. I talked with my cousin about housing and generally felt the city to see if I could live there. I fell in love with it: the hustle, the bustle, hell, even the subway system. I was determined to be in NYC by the year's end. As you can tell, things change. Let me state that I am not unhappy with how things turned out; I just want to you to fully appreciate my point of view of the situation. Yes, I had saved up a few months worth of bills to work on Synesthetic. Yes, I was fully dedicated to the project. But when the project doesn't seem to be that dedicated to you in return, you have to face the reality that maybe it's time to move on to other things. I was setting things up for my eventual move; and then, like I said, things change.